2010 Lent Daily Devotional

					    2010 Lent Daily Devotional
               Composed by the members and friends
          of St. Andrew-Wesley United Church of Canada

                             LENT:
     A season of fasting, self-denial, Christian growth,
          penitence, conversion, and simplicity.
In addition to reflecting on the season of Lent, the theme of ―Earth‖
was introduced as a possible lens for understanding what this Lent
could mean for our lives today. When some of the contributors to
this year‘s booklet gathered to hear this year‘s theme of ―Earth,‖ the
group brought forth this word association:

              clean water
              go lightly on the path
              don't trample the meadow
              wilderness
              we are earth too: we are soil, fire, water
              global
              dust to dust
              creation
              smell of the soil
              love of Earth
              the bounty seen in the soil with crops
              beautiful places where we meet God
              How did God make this!
              How did this happen?!

  Where will God walk with you this Lent? What will
               ―Earth‖ mean for you?

                   Blessings on the Journey.
The word Lent comes from an old English word meaning “spring.”
Taken literally, the word means “lengthen,” referring to this time of year
when the daylight hours become longer. Lent is the 40 days leading up to
Easter, not counting the six Sundays. This season of our church year is a
time of preparation, reflection, growth and change.

                                   ―Lent‖
                       Lent is a time to take the time
            to let the power of our faith story take hold of us,
          a time to let the events get up and walk around in us,
                 a time to intensify our living unto Christ,
             a time to hover over the thoughts of our hearts,
            a time to place our feet in the streets of Jerusalem
              or to walk along the sea and listen to his word,
    a time to touch his robes and feel the healing—surge through us,
                a time to ponder and a time to wonder . . .
             Lent is a time to allow a fresh new taste of God.
   From Kneeling in Jerusalem by Ann Weems, Westminster / John Knox Press 1992

Why a Lenten Household Resource?
It is common practice for people to count the days of Advent in
anticipation of Christmas. It is just as significant to mark the days of Lent,
beginning with Ash Wednesday and leading to the most celebrated Holy
Day, Easter Sunday. A Lenten Household Resource provides us with the
opportunity to pause daily or weekly to remember and reflect upon the
meaning of Lent. It provides an opportunity for us individually or within a
family to engage our faith in a meaningful, spirit-filled way. A Lenten
ritual at home will hopefully provide folks with a time to recognize the
presence of the Holy and to be attentive to God‘s spirit.

What supplies will you need?
This resource, a Bible, matches, 6 tea lights or purple candles (purple
being the colour of Lent), words to ―Like a Rock‖ (see below).
 ―Like a Rock‖ (More Voices #92) by Linnea Good
Like a Rock, Like a Rock God is under our feet.
Like the starry night sky God is over our head.
Like the sun on the horizon God is ever before.
Like the river runs to ocean, our home is in God ever more.
License ID: C18553

Resources used in preparing this Resource: Before and After Easter: Activities and
Ideas from Lent to Pentecost by Debbie Trafton O‘Neal, Illustrated by David LaRochelle,
1992, Ausburg Fortress; More Voices
An Activity for the First Week of Lent

Candle Lighting: Light 1 of the 6 candles in your Lenten worship centre.

Giving Up and Giving . . .

The 40 days of Lent (not counting Sundays) stretch from Ash Wednesday
to Easter morning. Many languages derive the name for this season from
the Latin word for ―forty‖ – Quadraginta. In Italian, this word is
Quaresima; in Spanish it is Cuaresma; in French the word is Careme; and
in Irish it is Corghas.

For many, the 40 days of Lent are a time of fasting and prayer. Lent, for
many, means a few weeks of "giving up" something -- coffee, chocolate,
pop, watching episodes of "American Idol!" What we often miss is that the
reason for "giving up" something as a Lenten practice is not to show the
strength of our will. Rather it is to make space for something thing else. If
we give up television, then we should use that extra time to do something
positive with our family, friends, church, or community. If we give up
coffee, we should take all that money we would've spent at Starbucks or
Tim Hortons and give it to a worthwhile cause. Talk together about
organizations that you would like to support, it may be an organization that
cares for people, it might be one that cares for the earth . . . .

Spend some time as a family talking about how you all would like to
spend time together, what would you like to do together over the 40 days
and spend some time talking about where you might offer your gifts of
money.

Quick Quiz: The number 40 also figures into a number of important
Bible stories. Can you remember how long the Israelites wandered in the
wilderness? Or how long Noah, his family and the animals floated in the
ark? How many days was Jesus in the wilderness?

Closing Prayer: God we give you thanks for this day. We pray for one
another and for our world..(Name those people, places and situations that
need prayer). May we accept the blessing of your love and share that love
wherever we go. Amen

Sing: ―Like a Rock‖ by Linnea Good License ID: C18553
An Activity for the Second Week of Lent

Candle Lighting: Light 2 of the 6 candles in your worship centre.

Read: Luke 19:1-10

     In this passage we read the story of Zacchaeus, the tax collector. The
story of Zacchaeus climbing a tree in order to see Jesus was a favorite of
mine as a child. Possibly because as children we are always needing a lift
to be able to see what is happening, be it at a parade or the zoo or even at
church.
     Children, as well as adults, often feel insignificant. Perhaps Zacchaeus
felt insignificant too. But Jesus changed all that. He saw a man in the tee
and called for him to come down. Even more, he went to the man‘s house
to say for the day! Jesus‘ loving act changed Zacchaeus‘ life. Our loving
acts can change the lives of others. We can make them feel significant.

A Family Giving Tree
     Many families are aware of their ―family tree‖ – listing their ancestors
and present relatives. What about creating a Giving tree along these lines?
     Draw a tree shape on a large piece of paper, adding the names of
current family members to the branches. As a family, talk about the kinds
of gifts you give to one another. Notice how many of these gifts are the
ways that God‘s love is shared.
     Cut leaves for your tree from coloured paper if you have it (or colour
the leaves with crayons) and let each family member write one item on
each leaf that suggests something another person could do for them. Then
place the leaves in a box or basket near the tree. During the week, let
family members choose a leaf and complete the giving act. They can then
tape the leaf to the tree branch of the appropriate person.

Closing Prayer: God we give you thanks for this day. We pray for one
another and for our world. (Name those people, places and situations that
need prayer). May we accept the blessing of your love and share that love
wherever we go. Amen

Sing: ―Like a Rock‖ by Linnea Good                License ID: C18553
An Activity for the Third Week of Lent

Candle Lighting: Light 3 of the 6 candles in your worship centre.

Read: Psalm 141:2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may
the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.

     More than 500 years ago, the artist Albrecht Durer was born in
Nuremburg, Germany. Although he is well-known for his woodcuts,
engravings and paintings, Albrecht Durer is also remembered for his
strong faith. It is said that, as a struggling young man, Durer lacked
money for art instruction. A friend made a deal with him: the friend
would work to pay for Durer‘s classes and then in turn, Durer would do
the same for his friend. But the friend worked so hard his hands were not
able to paint. Some people believe it is this friend‘s hands that Durer used
as models for his famous work, ―The Praying Hands.‖
         Prayer is one of the ways we nurture our relationship with God. It
provides us with a few moments to be still in God‘s presence, to share with
God our thanks, our concerns, our struggles, and our joys. To ground our
lives in prayer is to ground our lives in God, who is the source of life.
     Rabbi Marc Gellman and Father Thomas Hartman have identified the
basic elements of prayer, each connecting to a type of prayer:
     Wow                             - Prayer of Approach
     Oops                            - Prayer of Confession (I’m sorry)
     Thanks                – Prayer of Thanksgiving (Thank you for . . . )
     Gimme                           - Prayer of Supplication (I need, I
want)
     Remember              – Prayer of Intercession (I remember . . . )
     One of the gifts our faith community offers is the ability to hold one
another in our prayers. It is a precious gift to hold and to be held in this
way.
         Make a prayer hand by tracing your hand. On each of the fingers,
write one of the basic elements of prayer (Wow, Oops, etc.). In the palm
of the hand write Amen, which means ―So be it‖ and May it be So.‖ Take
time as a family / individual to offer a prayer each day this week as you
gather for meals.

Closing Prayer: God we give you thanks for this day. We pray for one
another and for our world..(Name those people, places and situations that
need prayer). May we accept the blessing of your love and share that love
wherever we go. Amen

Sing: ―Like a Rock‖ by Linnea Good               License ID: C18553
An Activity for the Fourth Week of Lent

Candle Lighting: Light 4 of the 6 candles in your worship centre.

     According to pretzel maker Snyder‘s of Hanover, a young monk in the
early 600s in Italy was preparing a special Lenten bread of water, flour and
salt. To remind his brother monks that Lent was a time of prayer, he rolled
the bread dough in strips and then shaped each strip in the form of crossed
arms, mimicking the then popular prayer position of folding one‘s arms
over each other on the chest. The bread was then baked as a soft bread, just
like the big soft pretzels one can find today.
     Because these breads were shaped into the form of crossed arms, they
were called bracellae, the Latin word for "little arms." From this word, the
Germans derived the word bretzel which has since mutated to the familiar
word pretzel.
     Another possibility for the origins of the word pretzel is that the young
monk gave these breads to children as a reward when they could recite
their prayers. The Latin word pretiola means "little reward," from which
pretzel could also be reasonably derived.
Apparently, this simple Lenten food became very popular. Pretzels were
enjoyed by all people. They became a symbol of good luck, long life and
prosperity. Interestingly, they were also a common food given to the poor
and hungry. Not only were pretzels easy to give to someone in need, but
also they were both a substantial food to satisfy the hunger and a spiritual
reminder of God knowing a person‘s needs and answering our prayers.

Make your own Pretzels
1 tablespoon of yeast                     ¼ cup of warm water
1 teaspoon of honey                       1 1/3 cup of flour
1 teaspoon of salt                                1 egg
                Coarse salt

Mix yeast, water and honey in a bowl. Add flour and salt. Knead dough
until smooth. Roll dough into ropes and shape into pretzels. Brush dough
with a beaten egg, then sprinkle with coarse salt. Bake at 425 degrees for
8 to 10 minutes or until brown.

Closing Prayer: God we give you thanks for this day. We pray for one
another and for our world...(Name those people, places and situations that
need prayer). May we accept the blessing of your love and share that love
wherever we go. Amen

Sing: ―Like a Rock‖ by Linnea Good                License ID: C18553
An Activity for the Fifth Week of Lent

Candle Lighting: Light 5 of the 6 candles in your worship centre.

Read: Luke 10:38-42
     We can learn a great lesson from the story of Jesus‘ visit with Martha
and Martha. Martha bustled about preparing for the visit, while Mary
waited eagerly to hear the words of Jesus had to teach them. And when he
arrived, she sat listening to Jesus. Martha on the other hand, complained
to Jesus that Mary wasn‘t helping. ―Martha, Martha,‖ Jesus answered,
―you are worried and upset about many things, but the only one thing is
needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away
from her.
     Lent is a good time to slow down and reflect on what has priority in
our lives. Are we like Martha, worried and upset, bustling around trying to
do everything and resenting others for not pitching in? Perhaps we need to
let go of some of those things that distract us from what is really
important. Take Jesus‘ words to heart this week. Slow down and listen to
God‘s Word.

What comes First? One way to help your family to focus on those things
that are most important is by taking a family priority inventory. Gather all
family members together over a big bowl of popcorn and look closely at
your calendar. List all the week‘s upcoming events on a piece of paper
and talk about what needs to happen. Talk as a group about what is most
important. Decide as a group what activities might be skipped or
postponed in order to have some family time. Think about ways how one
another can help each other out to make family time happen.
     Another option this week might be going for a walk as a family and
talking about and noticing God‘s incredible creation, you might think
about doing a sensory walk . . . inviting members of your family to stop
and listen to creation (what do you hear?), stop and look (what do you
see?), stop and breathe deep (what do you smell?), stop and gently touch
the ground, a tree, a rock, the sand, and even stop and tasting (ice cream is
always a delicious creation !)

Closing Prayer: God we give you thanks for this day. We pray for one
another and for our world... (Name those people, places and situations that
need prayer). May we accept the blessing of your love and share that love
wherever we go. Amen

Sing: ―Like a Rock‖ by Linnea Good                License ID: C18553
An Activity for the Sixth Week of Lent

Candle Lighting: Light all 6 of the candles in your worship centre.


An old Lenten legend explains how the robin got its red breast. On the
first Good Friday, all was somber and still. Even birds had stopped
singing. Suddenly one lone robin flew to see why everything was so still.
As she neared a hill with three crosses, the robin saw that the man on the
centre of the cross wore a crown of thorns. One of the thorns had pierced
the man‘s head and drops of blood were running down his forehead.
Feeling sad for the man, the robin swooped down and plucked out the
thorn. As she did, her breast feathers brushed against the man‘s blood and
were stained bright red. Ever since, robins have had red breast as
reminders of the kindness shown by this bird to Jesus on the cross.

Birds are spoken of in many places in the bible, and it is good for us to
remember to care for all of God‘s creatures. Here is one way and your
family could care for the birds around your neighbourhood.

Find some pinecones, some string, a jar of peanut butter (or lard if
allergies are an issue) and some birdseed. Tie the string around the
pinecone and then coat the pinecone in peanut butter or the lard (it is an
ooey gooey mess – but it is fun!) Then take the pinecone and roll it
through the birdseed. Then find a tree to hang it from and watch the birds
enjoy!

Another option this week: is to plant an indoor bulb garden. Visit a local
garden centre to buy bulbs. Fill shallow bowls or trays with a layer of dirt
mixed with gravel. Follow planting instructions. Place the trays in a
sunny window and keep the soil moist until the bulbs sprout and flower.

Closing Prayer: God we give you thanks for this day. We pray for one
another and for our world. (Name those people, places & situations that
need prayer). May we accept the blessing of your love and share that love
wherever we go. Amen

Sing: ―Like a Rock‖ by Linnea Good                License ID: C18553
                     Ash Wednesday, February 17
                          Genesis 1:1-2, 31, 3:19b
                             By: Mark Boyter

There is a Zen koan that asks ―what is your original face before you were
born?‖ An imponderable ponderable. Genesis tells me it was formless
and empty, but not alone; the Spirit of God hung over it. I was being held,
watched, cared for; like my parents hovering over my crib admiring in
wonderment, in love, in wordless ecstasy. And yet, for all that care, there I
was, alone on my back, crying with colic, wrestling with the air above my
hands, grasping at the faces I could see but not touch. Faces that were the
world to me. Faces that had no names.

I was growing into me, or into the me that I was then. Imagine: at the end
of my sixth day, I had been on this earth, on this ground, on this physical
plane, only 144 hours; but that was 143 times longer than I had been on
this earth at the end of my first hour. 143 times longer. It boggles. And I
think that I can‘t say 144 times longer than when I was born, because that
was a zero, and 144 times longer than zero is ... zero, isn‘t it? So how do I
count? But there I was at 6 days old, a whole world unto myself with
nothing but future ahead of me. Hopes. Possibilities. Loves. Successes.
Fears. Did I know that then? When did I come to know that? Interesting.

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I came from the earth, I will return to the
earth. From that formless, empty watched-over, loved, warm earth. From
the soil. An earth that was good. Good. There are so many ways to say
―good,‖ but I imagine ―good‖ as though I were holding my parent‘s hand,
looking in their eyes, and saying ―that was good‖ and knowing that it was
good for all the reasons that we spoke of, for all the reasons left unspoken.
We were formless and empty, watched over and loved, coddled. I can feel
the warmth in that formlessness. I can feel the gentleness. I was never
alone, even when I felt lonely. My original face before I was born was
love, and it was good. Good.


 May I feel this time of Lent, this time of reflection, this time of love. May
the relationships that surround me and mold me grow and sustain me, and
may I remember to say ―thank you.‖
                        Thursday, February 18
                          In response to Psalm 51
                             By: Zoë Campbell

We have been aware of our infringements upon the earth for many years,
yet have fooled ourselves into believing that it is necessary and possible to
live beyond the means that God has provided for us.
We live in a fast paced society where instant gratification has become the
norm. Trampling over members of God‘s community in order to get one
step ahead of our neighbour has caused us to lose sight of the fact that we
are all one in His eyes.
In our haste we are blind to the wonders of all of God‘s creation, including
ourselves. We lose sight of our purpose, leaving it behind in the trash
along side the coffee cups that held energy to keep us alert in this rat race
we call life.
What are we really missing out on in this race? While running to work
preoccupied with matters of business we cheat ourselves of the opportunity
to share this grace filled experience of life with all of God‘s creatures.
Lent is an opportunity for us to slow down. Give up the race. I challenge
each one of us to give up rushing for the Lenten season this year. Slow
down and smell the flowers. Take time to appreciate the whiff of spring
arousing your lungs as you pause to wonder at the buds slowly emerging
on the trees that line the streets you walk upon to work every day.
Each one of us holds God‘s presence inside…the water we drink is the
same life giving water that feeds the plants which provide us with air to
breath. God, through his forgiveness and love provides every one of us the
opportunity to step back into His wonderous community, the circle of Life.
In the words of the poet Hafiz
                  What excitement will renew your body
                        When we all begin to see
                        That His heart resides in
                              Everything?


Dear God, provide us with the confidence to leap back into your circle of
life, reviving our spirit with the life giving community in which we reside.
                          Friday, February 19
                              Joel: 2:1-2, 12-17
                              By: Shirley Etter

Prophets, both ancient and modern have tried to tell us that some of the
choices we are making are going to have disastrous results. Joel says: blow
trumpets to get everyone's attention; gather ALL the people; remind them
of the amazing abundance of God's steadfast love and constant desire to
see the whole of creation ―satisfied‖.

Prophets like Joel and Jesus call us to return to the Lord with our whole
hearts. Today, how would we do that?

By paying attention to the always-old but ever-new signposts that stand
especially at crossroads along the Way?
Recover a new reverence for life!
Be open to wonder in all your encounters with the life-force that shaped
and energizes and nourishes and sustains life!
Appreciate the interconnectedness and inter-dependence of all parts of the
'web' of life?
Note that there are many paths to God!
You risk losing everything if you do not include ALL (self, others,
creation) in circles of care!
Form line here for injections of gratitude and generosity!
There will be no end to changes and improvements ahead!
The Day of Shalom is just ahead as you continue to make 'good' choices!
Hang in there!
I will be with you, always!



 May we pay attention to the signposts, and choose the way together with
God towards that alternative day when all shall be well. God give us a
new heart, and a new hope, and a new strength to walk this way.
                         Saturday, February 20
                            Matthew 6:1-6, 16-21
                            By: Rev. Tom Miles
Acting doesn't just happen on stage or in movies. It's something we learn
early in life. Mother says 'Company coming this afternoon. I want you
children to be on your best behaviour.' There are muted groans. Then, in
our best clothing, faces washed and hair combed, we are presented to the
arriving guests with polite 'Hellos' and smiling faces. Inwardly, there was
little joy. We played the role which we were assigned.
Later in life, we realized others liked clean, neat, cheerful people with their
hair combed. It made a good impression. Sometimes it was genuine.
Sometimes fake.
The Pharisees were an important male group in Israel. They were
religiously devout, faithful to a fault and widely admired by their
community. Their strict adherence to Israel's laws of faith could be seen in
the practices they followed which others ignored. They objected to Jesus
because he did not follow their practices. Jesus freely mixed with people
who were not Pharisees. Jesus ate in their homes and invited them to
follow him.
Jesus did not disrespect the intent of Israel's laws. He objected to the fact
that the purpose of God's Law had been hijacked. The goal was to know
God and God's love for his human family. The Pharisees believed they
should avoid, as much as possible, contact with anyone who did not follow
their ways. Such people were 'unclean' in God's sight. To associate with
them was to become 'contaminated ' by their disbelief. The one true body
of believers in Israel were the Pharisees. And this became a source of
great pride.
Prayers were to be said at specific times. Some Pharisees 'happened' to be
in public places at noon where they repeated the prayers. Jesus felt it was
not a private devotion but a public exhibition to enhance their reputation.
Help the needy but do it privately. God knows what you do quietly and
alone for it is a sign of the presence of the God's Spirit in your heart. Faith
cannot be an act or a source of pride. It flows from the heart.


O God, be with me. Guide me to find joy in your love. Teach me how to
share your love with others. Amen.
                          Sunday, February 21
                               Luke 13: 6-9
                             By: Kathy Murphy

The parable of the barren fig tree required several readings as I thought
about the season of Lent, the thematic focus of the earth, and the current
reality of our busy lives.

I reflected on the meaning of the man (God) who planted a fig tree (the
Jews) in his vineyard (the world) and when he came looking for fruit he
found none. The act of planting is intentional with an expectation that
something will happen. The site of the tree planting is chosen so that it will
bear fruit.

 For three years (the time of Jesus‘ ministry) the tree did not bear any fruit.
Christ‘s teachings did not appear to be changing the people‘s attitudes as
they produced nothing of benefit to others. By taking up space and sucking
nutrition from the earth, the barren tree was of no use. It caused harm by
preventing the ground from bearing fruit it otherwise would.

The plea by the gardener to let the tree alone for one more year is a plea
for a second chance, to be given a season of grace to become fruitful. The
giving of a second chance to change is such a positive step and implies
growth to me.

While the days become longer and the new growth appears on the trees
and flowers, what a great time to look to the possibilities of a new spiritual
commitment and living in a new relationship.



 Loving God, now is the time for us to be fruitful and to live for you with
passion. Empower us to live with holiness, urgency and a sense of joyous
expectation.
                          Monday, February 22
                              Romans 8:22-30
                             By Meaghan Grant


I‘m sure you know the feeling well. It‘s 6:30am. The alarm clock buzzes.
A new day enthusiastically beckons. You, unenthusiastically, roll over
hitting the snooze button. ―Just five more minutes,‖ you groan.

We‘ve all wished for those five extra minutes. But have you ever wished
for a giant snooze button for life in general? When the new day is too
difficult to face? One push and life is on hold. I have. I was there last Lent.
I find myself there again this Lent.

Last March, I spent two weeks in hospital. It was one of the worst
experiences of my life, yet one of the best. Life had become
overwhelming; the reality of pain and sadness too much to bear. So I hit
that giant snooze button. I thought that by shutting the world out, pulling
the covers over my head, I could escape what was bringing me down. Boy
was I wrong.

During those weeks, I was forced to confront my pain. I couldn‘t eat. I
isolated myself from friends. I slept all day. As much as I needed God I
could not find the words to pray. All I could do was lie in bed hoping that
God somehow knew what I was feeling.

God heard me. Something incredible happened in that hospital wilderness
where I felt I had nothing left in this world, I focused my whole being on
God. As Paul writes in his letter to the Romans, ―the Spirit helps us in our
weakness‖. I never felt the Spirit more strongly than I did then. In the
midst of my brokenness, God heard my sighs too deep for words; the
prayers of my heart too painful to utter aloud.

So here I am again in the wilderness of Lent. As much as I feel like hiding
under the covers, I know I don‘t want to. I want to make the most of these
forty days and forty nights. I want to experience the fullness of Lent – the
beauty in the sadness, the hope in waiting, the Spirit on this journey
through the wilderness.
                         Tuesday, February 23
                           Deuteronomy 26:1-11
                           By Wingfield Rehmus


When the Israelites first entered the Promised Land after leaving Egypt,
they were commanded to present to God the first fruits of their labor.

―Take some of the first fruits of all that you produce from the soil of the
land the Lord your God is giving you and put them in the basket.‖

Giving was sign of thankfulness for all that God had done for them. I
wonder what it would mean to give the first fruits in my life? Would it
mean choosing my favorite outfit to donate to the women‘s shelter rather
than passing on the sweater that no longer quite fits? Would it mean
planning charitable donations first and then budgeting how to spend what
remains rather than looking at what remains after I‘ve paid my bills to see
what I can afford to give?

Scott once worked with a man named Jim Ellis who‘d pledged to give 1
day a week for volunteer work in honour of his brother who died in WWII.
Through this man‘s efforts over 50 years, his home of Seattle was
transformed. Among other things, he made it a greener city, cleaned up
Lake Washington, and started a non-profit to conserve the beautiful
landscape near his home. With that gift of his first fruits, he was able to
have a significant impact on the community in which he lived. It is
amazing to think of what can grow when we are prepared to give our very
best.


Dear Lord, It is out of great thankfulness for this earth and everything in
it that we strive to give our best back. We hope that through our sacrifice
greater things may blossom.
                       Wednesday, February 24
                               Acts 4:32-37
                         By: Heather McConnachie


The Believers Share Their Possessions

How do we learn the art of being compassionate?
Not surprisingly, the people who are best at being compassionate to others
are usually people who are good at being compassionate to themselves.

As a believer in Christ, I have the responsibility to care for the needs of
others: my acts of love reveal that Jesus resides in my heart, and giving to
those in need may help me to tell others about Him.

God gives us all we need, so let‘s give to others in their need.



On this day I declare,
with the Almighty strength of God's power,
that I deserve abundance and the financial means to be comfortable.
I will joyfully use that abundance
as a celebration of the Law of Harmony on Earth:
the more of it I share with those who truly need,
the more of it will come back to me,
multiplied by God's Grace and Thanks.
Amen.
                         Thursday, February 25
                           Matthew 6: 19-24
                          By: Gordon Harding

A mountain river follows a course carved over centuries. There is no
deviating from its pathway. At Lent we take stock of how we travel along
our pathway to Christ, a pathway clearly illuminated if we but look and
listen to the Spirit. This Bible reading presents three lessons helpful in
guiding us along that pathway.

In the first, we learn that if we live in pursuit of material goods, we focus
our hearts likewise. To store up treasure in heaven however, don‘t focus
on things that rust and can be stolen, but on giving others respect, being
fair and honourable in dealings with one another, loving one another as
Christ taught and focusing our hearts on the people of the world, not the
things of the world.

The second teaches that if we focus on dark things, our lives will be full of
darkness and ―how great will be the darkness if the light in our eye is
darkness.‖ Light gained from a purposeful life, one full of honour and
above reproach is a life leading to 'heavenly light'.

The third recounts that no man can be devoted to two masters: God and
wealth. This concept might be viewed as a continuum; actions moving
toward wealth lead you away from God, while actions toward improving
humankind and serving others lead you in the other direction and toward
God.


Heavenly Father: This Lent, help us reflect on how we serve the Earth
and its people. Teach us to respect our planet through energy
conservation and recycling. Foster in us respect for others, distant and
next door, and guide us to trade fairly in all commodities. Help those
whose living derives from drilling, mining and exploiting treasures from
the earth to find new ways to prevent the exhaustion, defacing or defiling
of it for current and future generations. Help us also to recognize and
give thanks for how we are blessed by your abundant resources. Guide us
to share our wealth with others on the earth, and encourage us to follow
your path to the fullness of light and life.
Amen.
                          Friday, February 26
                               Luke 4:1-13
                            By: Wilma Laninga

What is this wilderness, this desert journey we can choose to travel during
Lent? Is it setting aside busyness, searching goals and wants, or simply
asking, ―Who do I choose to serve and what does God require of me?‖
Will we experience God‘s grace, while journeying into the dark hidden
places of our personal desert landscape? Perhaps the desire to enter this
time of solitude, searching, and prayer has no formal outline but only
accepts God‘s promises: I will be with you. I will lead you.
Luke does not hesitate to state, that when the Spirit led Jesus into the
desert, the devil was also present to offer temptations. As the Spirit leads
us on our desert journey we also encounter temptations in our desire to
heal our broken relationship with God. Quoting scripture Jesus guides and
asks: Can you live only with material goals? Who do you want to serve?
Do you willingly accept God‘s wisdom and will in your life?
The desolation and aloneness of the wilderness allows us to reach out for
God‘s grace freely given each time we desire to heal our brokenness and
renew our relationship. Jesus‘ experiences teach and edify our journey.
The journey begins to enrich and we now see the desert in its natural realm
connecting to a created space of beauty and wonder. We have explored the
rocky crevices, learned to expose the dark places, struggled with the
danger, and now we can appreciate the contrasting beauty found in shadow
and light as it accompanies us on our path into a far-reaching horizon.

Our Lenten journey prepares us for the darkness of the Good Friday
experience and, as we face our personal shadows, we recognize the gift of
forgiveness that God has provided. With the brokenness healed, our lives
have been renewed. Rejoicing in the light of Easter that radiates God‘s
love, we have become by grace what God is by nature.


Come O Fount of every blessing; tune my heart to sing your grace. Let
your grace bind my wandering heart to You. Amen
                       Saturday, February 27
                         Psalm 91:1-2, 9-16
                  By: Frank Godwin, Saturna Island

Lent, the lingering days, bright, deep red crowning the alder tops,
birds swelling, some already seeping leaves, the higher sun,
sometimes even warm enough to be out with jackets open, earthier
smells, remembered stirrings, lost songs.

Signs of what's fading: Winter, the great withdrawal within, the
withdrawal inside, the great dormancy, dwindling harvest stores,
hope there'll be enough, cutting back.

Signs of what's taking shape: Spring, the great re-awakening, the re-
enlivening, the great resurgence, points of green breaking though
damp soil, trust there'll be more, anticipation, hunger acknowledged.

The upward, outward thrust of life re-asserting itself toward the
glory of its own fullness.
The promise that sustains us.
The light that lightens all people and the glory of the everyone-of-
one who struggles with it all.
It comes again.
It comes because it loves.
                        1    Sunday, February 28
                               Matthew 13: 31-32
                              By: Darrin McCloskey
Whenever I read one of Christ‘s parables I am always reminded of what a
great teacher he is. In two simple lines of verse he has described the
kingdom of heaven in a manner that is both simple and profound. And
every time I come upon the parable of the mustard seed, I am no less
amazed. For some reason I am always reminded of William Blake‘s
famous opening line in ‗Auguries of Innocence‘: ―To see a World in a
Grain of sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.‖ This time, however, I
am suddenly reminded that Blake lived some 1700 years after Christ.
    What makes Christ‘s teachings relevant today is that he uses words that
are tangible - words that stretch across the millennia. In many of his
parables he talks of birds, salt, water, wine, bread, and, in this case, a most
miniscule object like a mustard seed - all tangible words. I think he chose
these earthy, tangible words because it made it easy for his disciples to
grasp his meaning, as it does for us today. In the mustard seed I am
reminded of the Hasidic Jewish idea that each object has the essence of the
divine; it is our responsibility to raise every object around us and recognize
its divine spark within.
   So think of this idea: the idea of the mustard seed, the divine spark
being ‗raised‘ the next time you see a child kneeling on the floor amidst a
wide array of colourful Crayolas and a blank piece of paper, and that child
innocently creating that meandering blue river that seems to flow right off
the page onto your linoleum floor, and the puffy green tree ballooning
skyward, and that egg-yolk sun smack dab in the centre of it all. And then
for some reason you feel drawn to fasten this ‗spark‘ to the refrigerator
door for all to see. Yes, raising the divine spark is all so simple, and yet so
divine - as simple and divine as a child‘s drawing. As simple and divine as
a mustard seed.
   And now, I can‘t help but wonder what the drawing on Christ‘s
refrigerator door would look like today; and I am reminded of the words
from Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds:
                   ―Picture yourself in a boat on a river
                  with tangerine trees and marmalade skies.‖


 Dear God, grant me the grace to bear witness to your divine spark each
and every day, whether it be a moon over the mountains, a sun over the
sea, or even in a blade of grass peeking between the cracks in a sidewalk.
                            Monday, March 1
                                 Psalm 27
                               By: Ruth Faber

    This psalm begins with a powerful statement of faith, safety, and
reassurance. These words become even more potent in light of what
follows: the stark images of assault, life and death struggle.
    Where does this strong trust come from? Surprisingly it does not seem
to come from any outside intervention but rather from going within. The
psalmist yearns to live in God‘s presence. This seems to imply deep
experiencing as well as active seeking. Going within provides shelter,
safety to rise above, lifting up one‘s head to see beyond threat and
limitation. Liberated from fear the psalmist ―makes melody to the Lord‖,
engaging fully and joyously with life. Seeking and engaging with God this
way is described as a matter of ―the heart‖, our deepest center. However,
this journey is not an easy one in the face of life‘s serious challenges. Even
though the psalmist‘s faith seems strong, there is fear and a sense of
personal failings - and yet - there is hope and trust.
    My own faith journey has led me to explore practices like centring
prayer and mindfulness meditation. For me this psalm connects
profoundly with this experience. Practising mindfulness teaches me to be
fully present in the moment, present to God, instead of being distracted by
loud and fearful voices in my head which judge and evaluate continuously.
Being present this way helps me to ―behold the beauty of the Lord‖ by
sensing my deep connection to all creation and to engage fully with this
Earth and all that dwells within it in a spirit of compassion and love.
Establishing and staying committed to this discipline is not easy and every
day I struggle with distraction and the never-ending judgmental
commentary in my head. Like the psalmist I call out:

Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level pass. Let me be
patient with myself as I learn to encounter you. Help me to be present and
give my heart courage to rise above my personal pre-occupations and
grow in love and compassion. AMEN
                           Tuesday, March 2
                           Philippians 3:17-4:1
                        By: Ryan Fraser-Morissey

When I first read the passage, I was again touched by how the Spirit works
within my life. I had written the poem below a couple of days before
Kathryn welcomed me into this project, and had been thinking about how
so many have so much, but do not give thanks for their abundance, or deny
from whom these gifts are given. The tragedy in Haiti, gives us all a
chance to pause, and give praise for our safety and security. The Earth is a
finite resource to be nurtured and cared for, just as our spiritual garden
needs to be tended to on a daily basis. As the scripture says, ―the Lord
Jesus Christ, who by the power that enables him to bring everything under
His control‖. We need to clear away all that causes us to stumble, and
should we fall, reach for His hand to help us stand on the path made for us.

               The first light of dawn rockets across the sky
                         Illuminating your creation
                       Sweeping darkness into light
                 How do some claim You do not exist?

                    The wind brushes across the pine
                     And softly caresses the waters
           Echoing the heartbeat of the Earth in their movement
                How do some claim You are not present?

               A bird takes flight across a curtain of blue
          And seeds push their pale green arms through the soil
                 Greeting the spring day with a smile
                 How do some claim You do not care?

                          People greet people
                         And soul touches soul
                  Voices joined in praise and worship
                 How do some deny that You love them?



Heavenly Father, Help us to clear away all that keeps us from you and
give us voice to claim you, just as you have chosen us to be your people.
Thank you for the abundance of gifts you provide to your children, and
keep us wrapped in your love, and blessed with peace and joy. Amen
                         Wednesday, March 3
                                Psalm 72
                           By: Lorraine Graves

Psalm 72 tells me that across the thousands of years, people have prayed
for good leadership; they have looked to their leaders to shape the national
ethos, to lead the way in taking care of the poor, the hungry, the oppressed
and the ill. In this time of Lent 2010, we too call upon God to help us to
help our leaders show compassion to those with the least in our country
and our world. May they reflect on the needs of those with less.
―May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the
needy‖

What speaks to me most in Psalm 72 are the phrases asking God to instil in
our leader a compassion for those in need, the homeless, the
disenfranchised among us, be they in the downtown East side, our family,
or in foreign lands.
―For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no
helper.‖

What sings out to me in this psalm is the call for compassion in our leader,
compassion towards the earth and towards all people on it whether rich or
poor, powerful or weak.
―May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with
justice.‖

Even though composed thousands of years ago, the need for compassion
and care for our fellow humans endures.
―In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon
is no more.‖



God make me a compassionate leader and wise follower. Help me to guide
our leaders towards the ways of kindness for others and the earth. May I
make informed choices when I vote, choices made with compassion for the
poor, the homeless and the ill, wherever they may be. AMEN
                          Thursday, March 4
                              Luke 16:19-31


From: ―Daily Lent Prayer‖ (www.onlineministries.creighton.edu)

Opening Prayer: God of love, bring us back to you.
Send your Spirit to make us strong in faith and active in good works.
Grant this through our Lord, Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.

Scripture reading: Luke 16:19-31

Intercessions: God has revealed himself in Christ.
Let us praise his goodness, and ask him from our hearts: Remember us,
Lord, for we are your children.
Teach us to enter more deeply into the mystery of the Church, - that it may
be more effective for ourselves and for the world as the sacrament of
salvation.
Lover of mankind, inspire us to work for human progress, - seeking to
spread your kingdom in all we do.
May our hearts thirst for Christ, - the fountain of living water.
Forgive us our sins, - and direct our steps into the ways of justice and
sincerity.

Closing Prayer: Loving God, I hear your invitation, "Come back to me"
and I am filled with such a longing to return to you. Show me the way to
return. Lead me this day in good works I do in your name and send your
Spirit to guide me and strengthen my faith.
I ask only to feel your love in my life today.
                              Friday, March 5
                               Mark 4: 35-41
                            By: George Baldwin

In one of the great images of the Bible, Jesus is peacefully sleeping in the
back of a storm-tossed boat on Galilee when he is awakened by a gaggle of
panic-stricken disciples crying out to be saved. He commands the wind to
cease; and behold, the waters are calmed.
The Teacher then lectures his followers (and us) on the import of what has
happened: ‖Why are you afraid?‖, he asks. ―Have you no faith?‖– the
point being that trust in God‘s love embodied in Jesus to be effective must
be perfect and complete - greater even than that which led the disciples to
pack up and follow him in the first place. Total commitment is not yet
theirs.
During this Lenten time of preparation for Easter, one meaning we can
surely take from this is that we are called to the dauntingly difficult task of
getting ourselves in shape to receive and act in accord with the life-saving
news that Jesus still lives.
There is nothing easy about this, or passive, for it is in fact nothing less
than a requirement that we individually set out to be changed. This is, to
my mind, rock-bottom Christian belief. Without personal transformation,
the many good things that our religion has to offer amount to little more
than other worthy pursuits that hold our attention for a time and then as
often as not fade from view. What otherwise can Jesus‘ mission be if not
to have this effect on us?
Lent is the time in our calendar explicitly given over to the unending
search for what is called the Way – not so much through a preoccupation
with Self, though it might seem so, but as an outwardly-directed pursuit of
our ultimate purpose as human beings in this world we inhabit, which is, if
we can believe the almost universal urging within us, to be one with it in
what we do, or at the very least not actively out of accord with it. In
religious terms, this is, surely, the beginning in the soul of the redemption


 May we be granted, during this time of Lent, the insight and will to follow
the way of Jesus to what we believe is the closest thing to heaven on earth
– the sense of utter fulfilment and harmony, the blessed serenity, that is
God’s peace.
                            Saturday, March 6
                           1 Corinthians 10:14-22
                              By: Emily Jarrett

It is very easy as a Christian to claim to be worshipping God and not idols,
to claim that our faith is in Jesus and not in other metaphysical realms, but
what is an idol? Anthropologically speaking, an idol is a physical
representation that stands in place for a greater idea or god. It is, first and
foremost, a physical object. It is something we can unearth at a later date
and use to piece back together our ideas of the society that produced it.

What are the anthropologists centuries from now going to find of us?
What are our idols? First place to check is in our trash bags. What are we
throwing out? What is so common and so relied upon that it is expendable
or replaceable? Check your day planners or calendars. What do you think
you "simply could not live without?" What effect does the reliance we
place on these idols, these physical objects, have on our relationship with
God? Our idols may not be satanic in origin, but the effect of placing them
first, before families and friends, and God affects our relationship with
each other and with Him. What is there in our lives, in yours, in mine, in
the life of this city, and province and nation that would cause the Lord to
be jealous?



Dear Lord, I thank you for this time and this opportunity to look back and
reflect on my own life. I pray for your guidance, for your help seeing that
which I need, and that which I do not. I pray to be able to discern between
that which you have provided for me to help me, and that which is
hindering my relationship with You by taking Your place in my life and in
my heart. And I pray for Your help drawing my eyes and my reliance back
to You. Amen.
                             Sunday, March 7
                            Colossians 1:15-20
                       By: Rev. Dr. Dale W. Johnson

Attuned to the world around him, Walt Whitman reflected:

   A noiseless patient spider,
   I mark‘d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
   Mark‘d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
   It launch‘d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself.
   Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

   And you O my soul where you stand,
   Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
   Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to
   connect them,
   Till the bridge you will need be form‘d, till the ductile anchor hold,
   Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.
                 A Noiseless Patient Spider, by Walt Whitman (1862):

In the letter to the Colossians we read that God reconciles himself to all
things in creation through Christ. The spiritual path we are invited to
follow is one that invites us to be connected by invisible gossamer threads
of reconciliation that ties and unites us with all humanity, all creation, all
of the earth. We are called to live in harmony with our neighbours who
are near and our neighbours who live at the far reaches of the global
village. We are called to live in harmony with the Spirit Bear, the
Manatee, the Eagle, the Gazelle, the Orca, and all living creatures. And,
we are called to live in sacred harmony with our home, the Earth.


Holy One – Help us to hold our neighbours, all the creatures of the earth,
and the very world we live in with the love, respect and honour with which
you hold each of us. May it be so.
                            Monday, March 8
                             Matthew 13: 1-23
                            By: Mark J Anthony

Beyond the agricultural image of sowing seeds in earth, for me, the deeper
meaning behind this parable, illuminated the act of and requirement for
commitment ...... commitment to God, to the message of Christ and to our
Earth.

In my journey to baptism and beyond I have been trying to learn and
understand the shape and structure of the religious bowl I have committed
to holding the water of my spirituality. Certain truths are emerging for me.

One: that God is everywhere and in everything. To quote Rev. Barbara
Brown Taylor, ―God is the web, the energy, the space, the light – not
captured in them but revealed in that singular and vast net of relationship
that animates everything that is.‖ Everyone and everything of this Earth is
interconnected and interacting with God, ―…the concept of life with God
as a dance …God makes a move, humankind makes a move, and then
humankind makes a move based on God‘s move.‖ So, being of this world,
I am part of the dance and if I want to dance well, I have a responsibility to
be a good partner.

Two: that God gave us intellect and free will to make choices in our lives.
Even having Faith is a choice. The Advent study book ―The First
Christmas‖ illustrates how difficult it is to prove factually or historically
Luke or Matthew‘s account of the Christmas story, and yet how in the
context of that time people believed these parables. I chose to have Faith,
to believe these parables, to surrender my need for facts and accept that
they hold spiritual knowledge which helps to sustain me. I, we all, act on
Faith, making decisions daily, not knowing the outcome. However, in the
face of factual information which affects me and the world I live in, I still
have the responsibility to question, doubt, learn and make informed
choices.

The Dalai Lama comments that ―Peace and the survival of life on earth as
we know it are threatened by human activities and lack of commitment to
humanitarian values. Destruction of nature and natural resources results
from ignorance, greed and lack of respect for the earth‘s living things.‖

People‘s reaction to today‘s call for Environmental action and change
could be seen to parallel Matthew‘s parable (verses 19-23). Some people
don‘t understand and are victims, some understand eagerly but only do lip
service and don‘t change if it‘s too inconvenient, others understand but are
too caught up in worldly pleasures to change and some understand and try
to change by living a life more integrated with the needs of the world.

If I believe that God gave me life and that God is this Earth and everyone
and everything is interconnected, and that I was given free will and
intellect to understand and make informed decisions; then this Lent I have
to ask myself what choices and changes will I commit to, in order to help
our Earth. I like the fridge magnet quote ―Don‘t make me come down
there…. signed God‖. But now, if I think of God already being here in the
Earth itself, it changes my perspective about how I live on Earth.

―God, I pray for our Earth … your Earth … that we may take greater care
of it and each other‖
Tuesday, March 9
 By: Darryl Nixon
                          Wednesday March 10
                             Psalm 63: 1- 8
                             By Sue Parker


This passage speaks of our connection to God and his part in everything
we do. We are nothing without God - ―a dry and weary land where no
water is.‖ His ―steadfast love is better than life.‖ God is our help and we
should be guided by him in our daily lives and the way we use our world.

For many years we have lived a life of plenty with minimal regard for
what we are doing to our Earth. Although we should be environmentally
friendly, there are more and more new products that make our life easier
with little regard to the impact they make on our planet. What is going to
happen to our Earth in the next generation, if we continue as we have? We
talk a lot about carbon emissions but do not seem to take action.

We must do more than just praise God. We must utilize his power to
reduce our impact on the Earth so that there is a future for our children and
grandchildren as well as the World at large.




Heavenly Father. Continue to be an integral part of our lives and guide us
to discover and promote ways to preserve our Earth. Help us to be a
model for others.
                          Thursday, March 11
                              Isaiah 24: 5-11
                           By: Caroline Penhale

At first blush, this passage seems bleak. The prophet tells us that the ―earth
lies polluted‖ and ―its inhabitants suffer their guilt‖. There is no wine and
no joy to be found. Isaiah is warning the people of God‘s coming
destruction and judgement. Yet, this scene paves the way for the birth of a
new way of being in the world. It can serve as a reminder of our sacred
responsibility to take care of the earth and mend the world. Often
something old must be destroyed so that space can be made for the new
thing that God wants to do in us. I can think of a few examples:

The annual ritual of Spring cleaning, sorting and purging in which so
many people participate. How do you feel before completing this task?
How do you feel after it is complete?

In springtime many people pick up on the practice of fasting and embark
on cleanse or detox type diet plans. As we eliminate old patterns of eating
and drinking, what becomes possible for us in terms of health?

What if, instead of the wine running out, we imagine the supply of fossil
fuel running out? If our current way of life were forever altered by ―the
end of oil‖, what new ways of living might be possible? What might the
impact be on our transportation patterns, our communities and our
relationships?

This process of destruction and rebirth is cyclical and continuous. Seen
this way, God can be understood to be destroying the old and doing a new
thing all at once in every moment. The bleak and the wonderful can and do
exist together.



Spirit of God we thank you for your constant presence even as we
experience the stress and pain of destruction, change and loss. May we be
open to your creative energy working in us so that we may more closely
follow the Christ and take seriously our call to care for the Earth and the
World. Amen.
                           Friday, March 12
                             Matthew 6:7-15
                             By: Erica Clark


This scripture relates very well to my most appreciated Lent practice,
Simplicity. I see that we humans tend to over-do and over-spend, all in the
name of impressing others. I am sure that while God was creating our
Planet, He put in minimal thought and resource. He simply wanted us to
have a nice place to live and play on – Voila. Try it in your daily goings
on.

If we follow what the scripture suggests and implement the conciseness of
the Model Prayer into daily living - for example, consuming only what we
need, being frugal when the opportunity presents itself - our eco footprint
lessens. By doing this we give ourselves the gift of denial; learning to
appreciate our fortunes. And low stress to boot!

Lent also encompasses the thought of conversion. Let's make the small
changes regular. They amount to a big change when we all do it, and grow
beyond Lent into our being efficient and eco-conscious persons by nature
for eternity.



My Friend, I realize the wonderful objects and opportunities you present
us and as your children, You wouldn’t have it any other way. In return, I
do not neglect the blessings You provide. Thank You. AMEN
                       Saturday, March 13, 2010
                               Isaiah 55:1-9
                            By: Christa Ovenell


Lent can be seen as a season of thirst—thirst for a deepening spiritual
understanding—and the compelling invitation embedded in this text is to
―come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.‖ Who could refuse?
Who is not thirsty, who among us could live without quenching their
thirst?
Our shared spiritual tradition veritably flows forth with water images and
metaphor, placing water firmly at the centre of sacred rituals, and for this I
am grateful. It is because of this centrality that sometimes the simple act
of turning on my tap and watching my sink fill with icy clean, pure water
can make me feel connected to God and the Holy in quiet, quotidian ways.
Sometimes, I reflect on the privilege of my Canadian birth which has
provided me with virtually unlimited access to this safe, life-giving
resource. And then, sometimes, I am drawn into consideration of my
global brothers and sisters who live without this thing that should—in any
just world—be a right, not a privilege. And I remember a global debt I
owe, a debt of stewardship, of care, and of action.
In this beautiful, lapping passage, Isaiah‘s poetry reminds us that God‘s
gifts come without cost and are given to all. We are reminded also that the
Divine may not be easily understood, for ways of Divinity are not human
ways. That is all too true, though we must, as global citizens, try to
behave as if divinely inspired: we can give as the Lord taught us, and care
for those around us, and share the precious resources we all require.



Lord, today I pray for you to provide me with opportunity to see my
privilege for what it is, and inspire me. in your mysterious and holy ways,
to give to those around me who do not share it. Amen.
                        Sunday, March 14, 2010
                              Psalm 104
                  By: Jim & Gwen MacLean Cruickshank


What a beautiful psalm this is! It is often read or chanted at vesper services
around the world and is seen as a hymn of creation. The poet, thought to
be King David, celebrates all God's creation.....animals, plants, mountains,
waters, skies, birds, grass, earth, trees, day and night, fishes, and humans.
God is light and in God there is no darkness.
This psalm praises God and nature. First, when we read it we can't help
but feel grateful for all God has given us! It creates a joyful mood and
reminds us of how God loves all of nature and in doing so gave us this
beautiful earth and nature with all its varied, wonderful creatures. Verses
20 to 27 are a reminder that God made the world for all ...not just for us.
However the psalm also leaves us feeling sad. It reminds us that today the
world is not the way God created it. Now we are polluting God's precious
gift. After reading the psalm, we are left wanting to restore the earth to
the beautiful place that God gave us. We feel encouraged to love and
cherish our world the way God does.
Let us remember especially these words by the psalmist....

 "Bless the Lord ,O my soul. O Lord my God , you are very great. You are
  clothed with honour and majesty , wrapped in light as with a garment.
  O Lord , how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them
 all; the earth is full of your creatures. I will sing to the Lord as long as I
          live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. "

Perhaps the best way we can "Bless the Lord" and "Sing to the Lord" is to
do something to make God's world a better place...to restore it to the way
it was given to us.
We are God's hands and with God's spirit guiding us, we can change the
world until it once again resembles the beautiful world described in this
lovely psalm .


Dear God, Thank you for creating this beautiful world and forgive us for
polluting it. Guide us to work together to mend its brokenness and make it
the way you intended it to be. Thank you. Amen.
                           Monday, March 15
                          2nd Corinthians 5:16-21
                             By: Jen Cunnings


In this passage Paul describes his role as an apostle, his is a ―ministry of
reconciliation.‖ As a result of his incredible conversion, Paul switched
from being a persecutor of Christ to a proclaimer of Christ. He was
profoundly and forever transformed. He became a new creation and
viewed people differently because of that experience. For each of us our
conversion experiences are different, whether they are an amazing
awakening, or a gradual deepening, a mountain top experience or a
winding journey of wonder. In and through these experiences we too
become a new creation when we are ―in Christ‖ (a phrase Paul used a lot
in his letter‘s describing a believer‘s spiritual relationship to Christ).

But what does it mean to be ambassadors for Christ? When I think of
ambassadors I think of high-ranking diplomats, people representing
nations, those who are authorized to bring messages and requests and
encouragement. I think of Gary Doer who just recently became the new
Canadian ambassador to the United States, I think of Stephen Lewis who
was our Canadian ambassador to the United Nations. Being an
ambassador is an incredible honour. It is an opportunity to represent not
just yourself but others. It also comes with great responsibility.

As ambassadors of Christ we are called to share the message of Christ:
loving our neighbour, seeking justice and walking humbly. We are called
to represent Christ in our living: Living in such a way that those who
don‘t know God, come to know God because they know us.



Generous God, we ask for your guidance and grace as we seek to live your
love in the world. Help us to share your message of hope and peace in
times of turmoil and calm. May we see the face of Christ in each person
we meet, and may each person we meet see the face of Christ in us. Amen.
                          Tuesday, March 16
                            Matthew 6: 25-33
                           By: Janet Buchanan


In this beautiful passage Jesus is asking us to have faith in God to help us
deal with our everyday problems. He uses themes of nature to illustrate
how we should not be worrying so much, but putting our trust in God to
help us. In our modern fast-paced lives this may seem difficult, but in this
season of Lent we could try sharing our problems with God and have the
faith that we are heard and help may come.

This text also tells me that Jesus saw and loved the beauty of Earth and all
its creatures. Now, our planet and the animals, birds and plants that live
here are threatened by loss of habitat, pollution and climate change, much
of which has been caused by humans. Think about an earth that didn‘t
have the birds of the air or flowers in our gardens, or crops in the fields.
What a loss that would be.

Earth is suffering and we feel sorrowful because of it.

The problem is huge and sometimes we feel overwhelmed by it, just as we
can be overwhelmed at times by our own personal problems. Lent is a time
when we can reflect on these things and ask God to help us find solutions.




Dear God,
Thank you for this wondrous Earth, the gift of life and the coming
renewal of Spring. May we have respect for all life and seek to find
ways to heal our Earth where it is hurt.
                         Wednesday, March 17
                             Romans 8: 31-39
                            By: Faye Diamond

…I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor
things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor
anything else in creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God
in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Powerful words then. Powerful words now. The stuff sermons are made
from. Words to hold close, to comfort you throughout your life.
However, they aren‘t the words that are foremost in my mind.
The decade of the seventies held many losses and emotional traumas for
my family. No matter the glorious sunshine of brilliant summer days. No
matter the bold colours of children‘s artwork surrounding me in my
classroom. Many days, weeks, months just seemed grey.
In an effort to move from the grey to the sunshine I decided to read an old,
best seller by Norman Vincent Peale called The Power of Positive
Thinking. The passage that he quoted, the one that I would repeat over and
over to myself, the verse that pops more readily into my head is:

…If God is for us, who is against us?

Paul‘s letter to the Romans encourages forgiveness, reconciliation, and
redemption. God did not withhold his own Son…from Jew or Gentile.
God loves all his creation that much.

In this season of Lent, of renewal, we should remember that God is always
with us. He is also with every other particle of His creation. I hear the
voice of Alexandra Morton exhorting elected officials to protect our wild
salmon while each government denies that it‘s their problem. I watch
dedicated protesters in flimsy little boats confront the whaling ships of
Japan and Norway. I read about huge conglomerates more concerned with
the bottom line than ethics. It‘s enough to make God weep. But He is
there…in the voices and actions of protesters, in the pictures and words of
journalists, and He is with us when we say a little prayer, support a just
cause, write a letter, make a donation, or do nothing at all. God is there.
And God is always for us.

Abba, thank you for your unconditional love, your eternal presence, and
your beloved Son. Help us to live our lives according to your will. And
help us to forgive others, to reconcile our differences, and to replenish this
beautiful planet.
                        Thursday, March 18th
                             Psalm 69:1-18
                           By: Jim Vanderwal


    ―I have come into deep waters and the flood sweeps over me.‖

Winter in Vancouver; sometimes it seems like the rain will never stop. In
the semi-darkness of day, I walk through rain and puddles, forgetting that
somewhere above the dark clouds the sun continues to shine. Creeks in the
North Shore mountains becomes torrents of water, mud and debris.

I have heard that floods serve important ecological purposes -- the silt
deposited during the flood season creates rich soils, the high waters flush
away and rejuvenate overgrown river channels. Perhaps this is also true of
the flood that sometimes clouds my spirit and mind.

    ―Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to
    your abundant mercy, turn to me.‖

It can be hard to find answers in the moment. There seems to be more
perspective and understanding when looking back on past flood plains,
where the waters receded many years ago. I might see lush green grass
growing, and flocks of migratory birds passing through. I may see
relationships blooming between people I never imagined, supporting each
other in love. I can see that God has worked through everything, and used
the results of despair for a different purpose than I could have thought
possible.



God, help me to remember that wherever I am, you are with me. Amen.
                            Friday, March 19
                              Habakkuk 2:1-4
                              By: Tim Scorer


I am by nature someone who likes to observe what's going on. I think it's
my native curiosity. There I am sitting behind the wheel of the Honda at a
crosswalk or on the window coffee shop stool relishing the diversity of
human life passing before me; or grazing through the morning headlines
from the CBC and New York Times on my computer screen, picking up
the detail of stories that catch my attention; or tramping along the forest
paths on Bowen and noticing the subtle changes in new spring growth
since the last walk; or engaging with a grandson and being amazed by the
latest specific development in human life as guided by my own offspring.
That's observing, and it's good. But watching is different.

This word 'watch-post' challenges me to think of watching as being alert to
the arrival of something anticipated. It's way more active than casual
observing. Watching actually shapes the nature of our observing. Look at
Habakkuk; his whole orientation to the way he was looking was shaped by
his anticipation of hearing a word from God, perhaps a response to his
formal complaint. I get the feeling that he wasn't going anywhere until he
clearly heard that word. I really like his determination to watch and wait
for the real thing. Do I know what I'm watching for? That feels like one of
the tasks for Lent: to get clear about what it is I'm watching for so that I
intentionally shape the quality of my observing.

Having said that, I also have to say that the word that came to Habakkuk
has a lot of appeal to me. Get clear about the vision! It's a circle: if I'm
clear about the vision that will entirely inform the way I watch all that's
going on around me. My spirit will be right within me. And my action in
the world will be Spirit-centred.

Immersed in the fullness of Your life,
I watch for your presence and your word for me.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.
Amen.
                           Saturday, March 20
                                 Psalm 26
                            By: Catherine Atyeo
If this Psalm could be expressed in the simplest of terms, it might be
something like: Don‘t worry if the world is falling apart all around you,
and natural disasters and war abound, God will protect you. The Psalm
presents the possibility of cataclysmic changes to the planet, including
mountains shaking and trembling and waters roaring and foaming.
In the face of these monumental events, the Psalm asks us to believe in a
God with supreme and instant powers: ―...he utters his voice, the earth
melts.‖ This God can also put a stop to human conflict: ―He makes wars
cease to the end of the earth.‖
Perhaps like many individuals who were raised in the United Church, I
squirm just a little at the depiction of this kind of interventionist, ―magic
wand‖ God – it feels just a little too much like a movie starring Charlton
Heston.
What makes this Psalm have meaning for me is a phrase repeated three
times throughout the passage –that God is our refuge and our strength.
Why do we need God‘s strength? The Psalm describes an unstable world
in turmoil...ring any bells? ―The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms
totter.‖
The Psalm, very correctly shows that not only do humans not have control
over the planet - though we may delude ourselves into thinking we do –
but also that it is folly to put too much faith in other humans to bring deep
and abiding stability and peace. We are highly vulnerable, as the
earthquake in Haiti has illustrated so brutally. Natural disasters of this
magnitude cause many to ask the age-old question: ―How can a loving
God allow this to happen?‖ For lack of a clear answer, some abandon
their faith, such as the Haitian woman who was reported in a news story to
have thrown her Bible into a fire burning in Port au Prince.
We do live in a world that contains deep uncertainty, present chaos and,
inevitably, more chaos to come. But if we look to God as our refuge and
strength, we can believe that his power and love will never leave us and
will work through us and others – in ways that will heal, bring peace and
restore faith in a life-changing love. We will be tested – but God will give
us the strength to carry on.

Help us to remember that no matter how much we are tested and shaken,
shocked and frightened, God’s love is with us and will give us the strength
to carry on.
                           Sunday March 21
                              Amos 9:13-15
                              By: Lyle Jones

In spring my heart seems to flow back to the fragrant earth. Melting snow
joins mountain streams, bringing life to the land. Then new wine flows
freely over the hills, enlivening my soul. As I smell life emerging, the
Spirit flows into me, and my heart becomes the Promised Land. My
empty rituals take bud and blossom into deeply connected praise. She
encamps round about this land that She nourishes within me, and my
home, in which I am rooted, I carry with me. I am always safe and
connected.
Spring brings planting, but when the plowman and the reaper exist
together as in the land of Eden, toil is no more. My heart is quenched by
Spirit, yet I remain an exile from the Garden. I toil. In my opulence and
arrogance I have broken the first Covenant. I have abandoned my first
sacred role, like a parent who listens, without responding, to the dying
gasps of his infant, heart unmoved, certain of his right to turn away.
Around me, animals, once my beloved allies, suffer agonies, but I am deaf
to them. Too deaf to hear the voice within me, I require an Amos to speak
from without: "Though you are at the height of prosperity, and though you
live on the land, you are in exile from it, living parallel and alienated.
 Can you not feel the pain? But a time will come when you will be
restored to the harmony and unity of Eden. Your first responsibility, to
guard, nurture, and cherish Paradise will be restored to you. In new
found peace, you will finally see how much you have suffered in your exile.
Your place, your role, and the land, are one. Accept them. The burden is
light."
Prophet, today I lack the courage to give my riches to the oppressed and
take from the land only what I need. I am calloused and insensitive to the
vibrations of other life and in my vanity I still appear superior to myself.
So I acknowledge my exile and my slavery. I welcome the freely offered
gift of new wine, which improves me each moment, and nourishes the land
within me to sprout courage. I celebrate your promise that one day my
harvest will be such that I can restore myself to the Covenant, and be
rooted both in my heart, and in Eden, once more.
Great Spirit; Restore me to my sacred role of guardian and priest within
your creation, driven by the first desire you placed in my heart, to
celebrate, love and nurture all my relations. Open my eyes enough to see
that my addictions, which seem impossible to part with, are truly no price
at all to pay for the joy of embracing compassion for all. Restore life to
my empty rituals, making my praise a living river, carrying your gift of
new wine to the Promised Land within me. May your Spirit within, and
your saints and prophets without, continue to encourage me toward our
first Covenant and to Eden. In the name of Jesus Christ. - Amen.
                           Monday, March 22
                               James 5:7-10
                           Rev. Kathryn Ransdell

―Precious crops.‖
If Tim and I had not given the challenge to this year‘s devotional writers to
see if the theme of ―Earth‖ could be found amidst the Lenten themes of
fasting, self-denial, Christian growth, penitence, conversion, and
simplicity, then I would have probably have missed this phrase from
James 5:7.
Most often we read this passage and focus on his admonition to be patient
and to strengthen our hearts as we wait for Christ. Patience is a lesson I‘m
always learning and certainly it is a theme of Lent.
What about this phrase, though, ―precious crops.‖ Until the day comes
that science can manufacture pills to replace our need for food (and I
sincerely hope that day never does come), then food will always be needed
by us and therefore valuable.
I often forget that crops are precious. Being so disconnected from the
farms that produce the food that I eat, I forget the miracle that is involved
in a seed taking root and a shoot coming from the earth. It truly is a
miracle that I have bread to eat, cheese to savour and vegetables to sustain
us.
Our culture may be losing the practice of saying formal grace before a
meal, but that doesn‘t mean we are not still called to sit before our plate of
food and give thanks—thanks to God for grace manifest in our lives and
thanks to this earth for the food that it has brought forth.
Take time today looking at the food on your plate. This is precious food.
And we are God‘s precious children. Thanks be to God.


TABLE GRACE:
―Be present at our table Lord. Be here and everywhere adored. His
mercies bless and grant that we. May feast in fellowship with thee.
Amen!‖ (John Wesley)
                           Tuesday, March 23
                                Psalm 121
                              Michael Dobbin


I grew up in Calgary and I was in and amidst the Rocky Mountains as
often as time and circumstances allowed. I love those mountains and feel
they are a part of my essence in the same way as people who grew up on
the coast feel about their relationship to oceans.
It is a joy to go there with my friends and family. We go to the highest
places, the most majestic vistas, the most spirit-laden locales (and there are
many) and thrill to the vibration of those places. God is there in a very
tangible manner.
The year I was born, the toe of the Athabasca Glacier was within a few
metres of the roadway. Now, the toe of that same glacier is more than a
kilometre from the same road and it has receded most of that distance in
the last 20 years. The famous glacier at the back of Lake Louise is actually
gone completely. The Bow Glacier, the source of water that runs through
Banff, Calgary, Medicine Hat and all the way to the Mississippi, is hugely
diminished.
PSALM 121 is called an assurance of God‘s protection. I am reminded
when I see these glaciers melting before my eyes that it is I who must look
to God within myself to remove some of the obstacles to making my own
life more ecologically sustainable. It is I who must discover small ways to
protect the environment that I love, the very essence of life on this planet
as represented in the water derived from these glaciers. Global warming is
not somebody else‘s problem. It is mine to address and I must do more to
accomplish radical change.
The Psalm suggests that ―my certain aid will come from God‖. How do I
allow that? How do I embrace that? How do I effect that?



Lord God. It is time for truthful clearing away the detritus in my life and
making change in my daily routines. I pray for wisdom and strength—Lord
who is always awake and aware—to learn how to do with fewer trappings,
to live more simply, to conserve more aggressively and consume less stuff.
Amen
                         Wednesday, March 24
                               Psalm 65:5-13
                              By: Mary Bragg


Time and time again at Lent I watch the barrenness of winter transform to
hope-filled signs of spring: delicate green specks appearing on tree
branches, the cherry blossoms, and fragile shoots coming up through dark
earth and even through heavy snow. This outward picture seems to mirror
what can happen in our hearts as we mindfully make our way toward
Easter.

Perhaps, in this psalm, we are given a glimpse of Easter, of spring in full
bloom! Rich imagery is expressed by the psalmist…‖God…the hope of
all the ends of the earth…(you) who still the roaring…and the
turmoil…you call forth songs of joy…you enrich it (the earth)
abundantly…soften it with showers…overflow with abundance‖.

Lent is a time we can intentionally open our hearts to the creative work of
the Spirit as we sit in stillness (much like creation in winter), or as we
become aware of roaring and the turmoil in our own lives and in our
world. As we reflect and take action inspired by the Spirit at work in our
lives, our communities and in our world, let us hold deep in our heart the
hope of resurrection, of new life, of a renewed earth.



―You do not have to be good,
You do not have to walk on your knees
        for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves….
…..Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
The world offers itself to your imagination
Calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
Over and over announcing your place in the family of things.‖
               Mary Oliver
                          Thursday, March 25
                                Psalm 51:10


Excerpt from: The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by
Henri J. M. Nouwen (New York: Image Books, 1992).


For most of my life I have struggled to find God, to know God, to love
God. I have tried hard to follow the guidelines of the spiritual life—pray
always, work for others, read the Scriptures—and to avoid the many
temptations to dissipate myself. I have failed many times but always tried
again, even when I was close to despair.

Now I wonder whether I have sufficiently realized that during all this time
God has been trying to find me, to know me, and to love me.

        The question is not ―How am I to find God?‖ but ―How am I to let
        myself be found by him?‖

        The question is not ―How am I to know God?‖ but ―How am I to
        let myself be known by God?‖

        And, finally, the question is not ―How am I to love God?‖ but
        ―How am I to let myself be loved by God?‖

God is looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to
bring me home.


From The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming by Henri J. M.
Nouwen (New York: Image Books, 1992).
                            Friday, March 26
                               Luke 19: 1- 10
                              By: Doug Harvey

Carl Jung called it ‗serendipity‘, a ‗meaningful coincidence’. I didn‘t
choose this passage. It seems that it chose me by a meaningful
coincidence. The relationship between money and ‗goodness,‘ between
being rich and being ‗liked‘ is one I have struggled with for decades.
I have worked with entrepreneurs for my entire career. Every one of them
was rich or wanted to be rich. I have watched the best of them struggle
with the same dilemma of ‗good versus money‘. It wasn‘t that I didn‘t like
the entrepreneurs with whom I worked or that I thought they were bad in
some way. In fact, I liked most of them very much. Most were caring
people with active social consciences. For whatever reason I didn‘t like
myself and my desire to be wealthy like them even if I didn‘t like the work
I had to do to share in their wealth.

Then a funny thing happened as my faith journey evolved and deepened. I
began to like and even love myself because I was told countless times that
God loved me. And as I came to like and love myself I came to like and
love the business roles that I played in helping my entrepreneur clients to
become successful and, therefore, wealthy. I came to a deeper and deeper
understanding that God made everyone for a purpose including business
owners who, on the surface, seemed totally dedicated to making
themselves wealthy. In my role as a CFO I even came to understand tax
collectors more clearly. I saw the passion and enthusiasm and, frankly, the
talent that entrepreneurs brought to their businesses as their own
connections to the source, to the Holy Spirit, to God.

Without entrepreneurs who often take frightening risks in turning their
business visions into reality we would not have jobs to take of our
families, to provide surplus wealth to take care of our poor, to pay taxes to
make our schools and hospitals work. And without tax collectors the
entrepreneurs might not pay the taxes needed to do all those good things!
Yes, entrepreneurs and tax collectors are constantly faced with the
temptation to fall in love with money or to abuse their power. But I think
that is true of all of us. I believe that all of us ‗love money‘ in some way at
some point in our lives. I also have come to believe that Jesus is saying to
all of us that it is not the money in the bank account that matters it is the
intent we have in our hearts as we both make and use that money for the
right purposes.
                           Saturday, March 27
                            Ezekiel 37: 1-14
                      By: Mae and John Pratt-Johnson


Death and Resurrection together form a universal principle. It is God's
way of bringing redemption to the earth and to human life. Years ago in a
time of suffering, when I realized this, it opened me up to possibilities God
might offer and gave me hope. We don't know where death and suffering
come from (never from God) but Resurrection we know is from God
.
Our prophet is taken on such a journey. God says I hold you by the hand
as you look at this destruction full on. It must have taken courage to stay
there long enough to view and comprehend this terrible desolation. Then
he chose faith over despair, he heard the Word of the Lord, and spoke out.
The result was the amazing, triumphant resurrection of bodies with their
spirits that became a rebuilt and revitalized nation that acknowledged God.
Surely this is a story to hold in our hearts of God's great loving redemptive
power.

Sometimes in the face of suffering, tragedy, illness, the only way to find
hope is to search through the ruins for a sliver of resurrection light. That
will be God.

Jesus spoke of it this way: "unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground
and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies it bears much fruit" John 12:24.
For him, death and resurrection was the only way to redeem the world, to
bear the fruit of which we are a part.

At this time in Lent, we still have to face the suffering of Good Friday - all
the worst that humans, world powers, and misguided religion can do. Let
us look at it full on, acknowledge, grieve, and hope. We will see what
God will do.



God of loving care, take me to the place and experience in my life where I
can hear your voice and find resurrection.
                        Palm Sunday, March 28
                               Luke 19:28-40
                               By: Tim Scorer


From the east, Jesus rides a donkey down the Mount of Olives, the final
stage of the hundred mile journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. From the
west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor rides a war horse at the head of a
column of imperial cavalry and foot soldiers. Clearly both of them have
prepared for this moment of entry into the city. Jesus' plan unfolds as he
sends disciples ahead to bring the colt. There's even a code word: ―The
Lord needs it.‖
Pilate's intention is clear. Passover is a major Jewish festival when there is
a risk of things getting out of hand with the occupied population. He will
bring reinforcements from the coast – a display of imperial power to keep
things under control.
Get the picture? West gate: cavalry, leather armour, helmets, Roman
eagles on poles, metal and gold, drums, military precision, imposed power,
and foot soldiers who know well their capacity to brutalize a subject
people. Those who notice the procession are sullen and silent. Everyone
knows that this is all about occupation.
East gate: simple man on a work animal – never been ridden before, cloaks
for a saddle. Everything has been anticipated. As soon as the procession
sets out, the followers of this peasant teacher begin to yell out to alert the
crowd that this is the moment. How can they respond?
―Let's rip down some branches from these trees and lay them on the way
as a path of welcome for the leader who comes in the name of peace!‖
―No, let the trees be. They raise their arms in praise too! If this really
matters to us we will lay before this king, our most prized possessions –
our comfort and our identity.‖
And as Jesus rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road.

With your green and giving creation
we will raise our hands in praise to you!
With the stones and soil of Earth
\we will shape a path of loving with you!
You are our Gate. You are our Way.
Amen.
                          Monday, March 29
                              John 12: 1-12
                             By: Jean Budden


What resonates for me in this scripture is Mary washing Jesus‘ feet. In
Jesus‘ day it was customary when someone had travelled far, to have their
feet washed. After His travels a dinner was laid out for Jesus. They came
to the table, Lazarus, Martha, Mary and the disciples. Jesus is among
friends who express their love. This is the calm before the storm. Mary
washes the feet of Jesus not with water but with an expensive
perfume…‖and the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the
perfume‖. Mary offers a wonderful demonstration of gratitude, love and
devotion. Jesus speaks of Mary‘s actions as anticipatory of his death and
burial.

With this scripture passage I am instantly reminded of the people washing
the feet of travellers visiting First United Church. Their feet may ache and
a person will provide a warm bowl of water. The feet are held, massaged
and soothed so they may continue their travels. Afterwards they can go to
the table and break bread, be with those who express their love, and if they
wish, can rest their weary body on a bed.

I find this action of washing feet to be so powerful. It brings people
together and the act can be done in silence, in prayer. It is an act of
humility, of being teachable. I am a traveller (I am visiting this earth
briefly) and this period of Lent gives me time to slow down, to reflect, and
undergo a ―spiritual spring cleaning‖. I am filled with gratitude when I
experience the depth of unconditional love offered by Jesus and in the act
of washing feet. The power of the image of washing feet compels me to
go deeper in my faith.


Almighty Creator, as I enter this holiest of weeks ―make me an instrument
of your peace; where there is hatred let me sow love; where there is injury,
pardon; and where there is doubt, faith‖.
                            Tuesday, March 30
                               Isaiah 49:1-7
                             By: Christine Coles


When we are called to come back and follow God how do we find the
way? The prophets call us, the scriptures speak to us, and Jesus has gone
before us. Our church community and the wider church have wisdom to
share. And we listen to our own common sense, and we listen to God
within us.

For prayer, I invite you to go outside and find a friendly patch of dirt. If
that isn't possible, imagine it.

Find a space to take off your shoes and stand barefoot and feel the grass,
the mud, the twigs and all the creepy crawlies between your toes.
Breathe deep and feel your breath reaching through your body, connecting
to your heartbeat, each pulse bringing life to each part of your physical
body, each pulse taking away what is not needed, sharing it back to the rest
of the world.
As you exhale, release on your breath what you no longer need.
Feel connected to the earth, the life flowing from your feet up your body,
rich and loamy and full of good things to help you grow, pulling up
through your spine and out the top of your head.
Feel connected to the sky, open your mind to the bright and refreshing
light pouring through you like bright clean waters, all the way to the earth,
connecting you up and down.
Feel inside your body, know that we belong to God who has created and is
creating, who came in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make
new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.
Breathe deep and listen and feel.
Hold your feet and the dirt on them. Feel your connection to God and the
earth and yourself and know you are one. Know that you have a path to
follow and hold that in your heart, giving thanks to God for the moment.
                          Wednesday, March 31
                               Hebrews 12:1-3
                              By: Freeda Elliott

We are asked to follow the example of Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of
our faith. He has endured the humiliation of the cross disregarding the
shame and has taken his rightful seat at the right hand of the throne of
God. He endured such hostility against himself from sinners so that we
may not grow weary or lose heart.
As we pray the Lord‘s Prayer we ask God to forgive our sins and those
who sin against us and ask those who we have hurt to be forgiven of our
transgressions. If we do not forgive those who have sinned, the Lord will
not forgive us. It is a constant battle for us to achieve this (kind) of peace
on earth.
Sometimes we ask ourselves why the Lord lets such terrible things happen
in the world like the recent earthquake in Haiti. We question why God
would let such terrible things to happen but it is a great mystery beyond
our comprehension. It can lead you to wonder why God let such terrible
things happen to Jesus on the cross. What I believe is that this happened
so that our own sins can be forgiven. If Jesus died that terrible death it is
not beyond us to forgive others.
Now is the time to show our compassion to the rest of the world. Your
hearts answered the call to the terrible events that happened in Haiti with a
wonderful donation for the human tragedy that has happened there. This
Lenten period is a time of reflection for the events of our lives and for the
preservation of the earth. I am reminded of a trip that I took to Alaska and
the leaving of Tok Junction to climb on the Taylor Highway. In that climb
over the top of the mountain, I felt the closeness to the majesty of our
universe and the closeness go God. It felt like I could reach out and touch
the very heavens. I was brought down to earth by descending to the
bottom edge of the mighty Yukon River and a scary barge ride to Dawson
City. We pray for the preservation of God‘s beautiful universe and
majestic mountains.



Dear God, Help us to forgive others who have sinned against us. Make it
not beyond our power to forgive so that we may be able to enter the
Kingdom of God and hallow the name of Our Father for ever. Amen.
                      Maundy Thursday, April 1
                               John 13:1-35
                           Rev. Kathryn Ransdell

I like Peter.
He‘s the disciple who so wants to ―get it‖ when it comes to this Jesus-
thing. He‘s so willing to wear his heart on his sleeve and follow Jesus. He
will be the one in a short time so willing to betray Jesus.
When he understands that Jesus‘ washing his feet wasn‘t just about a
customary act of hospitality, he excitedly asks Jesus to wash not just his
feet, but his hands and his head. Don‘t just give me a little if this is as
good as you say it is!
Today‘s reading gives us an intimate view of what it was like when the
disciples gathered with Jesus for what would be one of the last times they
would gather under peaceful circumstances. From a Christian education
standpoint, I‘m intrigued that they didn‘t get together with an agenda,
flipchart, and markers in hopes of being ―educated in their faith.‖
They were simply together, in community, present with one another. At
the same time that Peter wants to have more water put on him, Judas
moves farther away from his rabbi, emotionally, spiritually, mentally and
by the end of the passage, physically. Immediately Judas went out. ―And
it was night.‖
These two characters together represent the deepest desire of my faith - to
wear my heart on my sleeve and follow Jesus, and the deepest fear of my
faith - that darkness would descend upon me. It is the three days that are
coming, the Paschal Triduum, where I will journey once again, to realize
my sinfulness and to hear the good news: In the name of Jesus Christ, you
are forgiven. Thanks be to God.


As we gather once again to wash feet and eat at the table, may our hearts
cry out to have more than our feet washed, but also our hearts and souls.
Let us have love for one another. AMEN.
                          Good Friday, April 2
                              John 19: 13-36
                             By: Debra Osmar

Traditionally Good Friday is one of the most difficult days to get through
in our spiritual year. Always the day has saddened me. Even as a young
girl I could never name the cause until I learned of the significance of the
day in Sunday school. And then it saddened me more, even to this time.
How could people of God crucify Jesus? How could people ignore the
lessons that have always been there for us to follow from God, source of
all that is? How could the priests and crowds be so angry?
As I read these scriptures I remember my tears while viewing The Passion
of Christ, the must-see movie of a few years ago. Looking for ways to see
deeper meaning with lessons was a challenge. As he was dying on the
cross, Jesus continued to love and care for his family, telling John to care
for his mother Mary, telling her that John is her son. One of the most
precious gifts we have is family, which we are reminded of with this gift
from Jesus to both his beloved disciple and his mother. He knew that
family would care for a mother and son as no other can, a lesson that today
many of us ignore.
He was a king, this denied by the Jewish leaders, the irony being that
Pontius Pilate had a sign written that identified Jesus as King of the Jews.
In death he would be greater than all, at the right hand of God. Even as he
suffered, Jesus kept the purpose of the ancient prophesies as a lesson. He
was the lamb of sacrifice for atonement of all of our sins. Reading the
scriptures, the enlightenment was to see that he chose when he would die,
that indeed he was the ultimate and final sacrifice. I am grateful to be
reminded of my mother‘s words that ―the blood of Jesus runs in me‖.
As Christians we are called to remember his teachings especially to love
one another. I would add to love this Earth, this rich bountiful gift that is
life from God. The richness of the soil into which seeds are planted from
which we harvest crops; the streams that provide us with water and further
sustenance. Jesus, I‘m sure would remind us all that we have the
responsibility to care how we treat this Earth. The mountains, forests,
prairies, oceans and deserts all give us life and show us the beauty of
God‘s creations. What a wonderful world if we all did follow his
teachings in all things.
Holy One, as we move through this Lenten time please be with us all.
Help our heavy hearts to be filled with the light of Your love. Help us to
follow in the steps of Your Son, our Saviour, to follow the lessons he gave
us. Guide us in serving those around us who need a helping hand and
lead us to treasure the bounty of this beautiful gift of Earth. Please be
with us as we humbly work to be true and good stewards of Your gifts.
Thank you Gracious One for giving us the gift of Jesus and for his blood
that runs through us all. AMEN
                    Holy Saturday, April 3, 2010
                          Lamentations 3: 1-24
                         By: Linda Elaine Turner

Martha‘s heart is cold and heavy. She feels forsaken as if the rod of God‘s
wrath has stolen her beloved. She blames God‘s wrath for walling her in
without escape. Her beloved‘s body is unresponsive and cold to her touch.
The Spirit has left him.

Martha laments and recalls how she, appropriating the living Earth‘s voice,
raised her voice against injustice saying: ―Lord, do you not care that my
sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to help me.‖

Martha remembers his love-filled words of assurance: ―Martha, Martha,
you are worried and distracted by many things.‖ Then she remembers that
day when the Holy Spirit‘s fragrance—permeated his clothes, his flesh, his
hair, and anointed him, whom she Martha loved and trusted—this fills her
nostrils.

Bitterness has crept into Martha‘s heart. The Cana joy has left Martha and
her faith community. The wine has turned to vinegar. Martha feels the
hammer that drove a wooden stake into the heart of the Earth as if it were
her own heart—still. She hears her bridegroom say: ―It‘s over,‖ and sees
his body stiffen and grow cold without the Holy Spirit.

Martha laments: ―the thought of my affliction and my homelessness is
wormwood and gall!

Martha wipes the tears from her eyes. As the truth dawns, and she realizes
the cold cruelty of the grave, hope returns to her. She too has sinned. She
prays quietly for forgiveness. The tomb empties.


Martha‘s prayer:
Our gracious living Mother and Father. We your children have sinned.
Forgive us. Grant us the freedom to demonstrate the physical resurrection
of the Word, hand in hand with the Holy Spirit, giving all spirits of the
Earth cause to unite and lift up one voice in peace and celebration. Amen.
                         Easter Sunday, April
                             John 20:1-18
                         By: Rev. Gary Paterson

So… it‘s Easter morning; and we‘re in a garden; memories of Eden, but
filled with tears. Mary loved Jesus, but now he‘s dead. The only thing she
hoped to do as a final gesture of tender care was to anoint his body, and
now even that consolation was not possible – the body was gone. The
other disciples were running this way and that, and then they left; but Mary
remained. Maybe that‘s the beginning of an Easter word… standing still;
in the garden; with your tears.

Because that‘s when something happened for Mary… standing still brings
an opening for angels, who speak words of reassurance. But it‘s strange,
isn‘t it, how the consoling words of others, even of angels, aren‘t enough.
They‘re necessary; they set the stage; they hold you in your grief, so that
you don‘t fall apart; what they do, is give you time for something else to
happen, time for the Spirit to work a deeper healing within.

Mary sees someone, whom she believes is the gardener. We‘re told it‘s
Jesus, but she doesn‘t know this; she doesn‘t recognize him. Which has
always astounded me – not recognize the one with whom she has travelled
so intimately for three years, the man who had freed her from her demons,
who had brought the gift of life and love? Or is this too an Easter word…
you aren‘t necessarily going to recognize the resurrected Christ when he
comes to you; the experience might be as ordinary and everyday as
bumping into the gardener. Until you hear your name; until you feel
yourself being addressed so deeply and intimately by the Spirit, by Love;
by the Energy of Resurrection. And maybe you will remember ancient
prophetic words, ―I, the Lord, have called you by name, and you are
mine.‖ (Is. 43). And maybe, just maybe, you will find yourself answering,
―Oh God, indeed, you have called me by name, and I am yours. And
that‘s enough.‖


O mysterious yet loving God, come to me. Or rather, let me see you and
know you and name you. Easter me, God; let me know my name, so that I
might be made whole, and discover true life. Amen.

				
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